Any athlete can tell you, never underestimate the power of the off-season. It’s a time where players can rest up, get their bodies right, and improve for the upcoming season. The off-season is pivotal for every single athlete. From the six year olds playing Tee-ball to professional athletes making millions of dollars, everyone playing sports needs an off-season.

In its current state, youth sports have begun neglecting the off-season. Many sports now extend past their customary seasons and last throughout the year. Young athletes who are specializing in one sport have the opportunity to play it all year long, without a considerable break. Specialist athletes aren’t the only ones disregarding the off-season. Those who participate in multiple sports over the course of a year are also abandoning it.

This behavior can be potentially harmful to an athlete’s health and progress. The off-season is just as important as the season itself. In fact, youth sport athletes require it more than the professionals do.

Start of the off-season

Once the season wraps up, players should take a few weeks to rest and recover. Mild exercise is fine, but overexertion is not advisable. The body needs time to recuperate. Especially a kid who’s body is still growing. A couple weeks off from intense training and exercising can do wonders for the mind and body. If needed, make an appointment for a massage, chiropractor, or physical therapy.

Coming up with off-season goals is another great idea. It gives a sense of direction and makes it easier to stay focused on exactly what is needed. Some smart goals include sticking to a healthy diet, putting up a certain weight in workouts, running a specific distance. Other goals can be more sport-centric: throw a more accurate slant route, get more consistent on the landing of a backhand spring, etc.

Establish a workout routine

Just because the games are finished doesn’t mean that it’s time to devolve into a couch potato. Dedicated athletes know that the off-season is the best time to work out. The energy expended on practicing and playing in games can be shifted over to exercising, both strength training and cardio. Creating a rigorous workout routine will yield very desirable results once the season begins.

The type of exercising and training done depends on what sport the athlete plays. Generally speaking, some weight lifting, core strength exercises, cardio, and other aerobic workouts are all beneficial.

Injury risk

Believe it or not, a young athlete’s body requires an off-season more than a professionals. That fact alone stresses the necessity of an off-season in youth sports. A professional athlete is training more intensely, endures more physical games, and typically has a longer season. Taking all that into consideration, youth athletes still shockingly need the off-season more.

Because their bodies are still growing, young athletes are more prone to injury than a fully grown athlete. The constant stress a player exerts on their body takes a toll, regardless of size and age. But this toll has a greater negative effect on youth athletes.

Time for improvement

While the season is in full swing, it can be challenging for an athlete to focus on specific aspects of their performance. Sure, practice isolates individual skills and techniques, but sometimes at a quicker pace than is desirable. During the off-season, players can take a step back. They can devote more time to a single aspect of their game that they struggle with. Maybe that’s handling a ground ball or shooting a free throw. Whatever the weakness is, an off-season can be the remedy needed.